The Rabbanut intends to issue new directives limiting the ability of rabbis to perform marriages in Israel if they come from the Diaspora, earn their living from a profession not connected with the rabbinate, or teach in yeshivot hesder, high schools or advanced education institutes. In other words, they are giving themselves a near-monopoly.
Why? The Rabbanut, of course, claims it is merely trying to combat 'a sharp drop in professionalism' amongst rabbis performing weddings. But this is completely contrived; if it were true, would they really need to restrict at which wedding "Heads of Yeshivot Hesder and Hassidic sects" can officiate??? I think not.
The rabbis of Tzohar, an organization which has done much to improve the way secular Israelis feel about religion simply by being open and respectful, feel that the Rabbanut has acted specifically to sabotage its own rabbis. This sounds more likely; faced with a rival who have struck a real chord with the secular public, the Rabbanut's only answer is to flex some legal muscle. It's depressing to watch them act to protect their own narrow institutional interests instead of finally taking the hint, which I'm sure they understand full well, about what the secular public really want in their rabbis. But then again, this wouldn't be the first time the religious establishment has acted this way in recent months. The pressure is clearly on.